Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal is “…funny, wise, and artfully realistic” —National Public Radio

Janie Gorman wants to be normal. The problem with that: she’s not. She’s smart and creative and a little bit funky. She’s also an unwilling player in her parents’ modern-hippy, let’s-live-on-a-goat-farm experiment (regretfully, instigated by a younger, much more enthusiastic Janie). This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie reach that “normal target.” She has to milk goats every day… and endure her mother’s pseudo celebrity in the homemade-life, crunchy mom blogosphere. Goodbye the days of frozen lasagna and suburban living, hello crazy long bus ride to high school and total isolation — and hovering embarrassments of all kinds. The fresh baked bread is good… the threat of homemade jeans, not so much.

It would be nice to go back to that old suburban life… or some grown up, high school version of it, complete with nice, normal boyfriends who wear crew neck sweaters and like social studies. So, what’s wrong with normal? Well, kind of everything. She knows that, of course, why else would she learn bass and join Jam Band, how else would she know to idolize infamous wild-child and high school senior Emma (her best friend Sarah’s older sister), why else would she get arrested while doing a school project on a local freedom school (jail was not part of the assignment). And, why else would she kind of be falling in “like” with a boy named Monster — yes, that is his real name. Janie was going for normal, but she missed her mark by about ten miles… and we mean that as a compliment.

Frances O’Roark Dowell’s fierce humor and keen eye make her YA debut literary and wise. In the spirit of John Green and E. Lockhart, Dowell’s relatable, quirky characters and clever, fluid writing prove that growing up gets complicated… and normal is WAY overrated. Read Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell.


News, Awards & Nominations

Named: ALA’s YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults List
Nominated: 2012 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens


Reviews of Ten Miles Past Normal

Dowell gets all the details of ninth grade right: the changing relationships with friends; the allure and disappointment of the forbidden boy; embarrassing parents; and how having a passion changes everything. … Middle schoolers with an eye to the future will love imagining themselves into Janie’s world. —The Horn Book


Funny, wise, and artfully realistic, Dowell offers the upside of abandoning normal, embracing your own weirdness and barreling on with life. —National Public Radio


A quirky coming-of-age for girls ready to discover their cool aunt’s stash of vintage copies of Sassy. …Janie’s voice — anxious, funny and winning holds — it all together as she finds and takes her place at school and on the farm. —Kirkus


Dowell brings a completely refreshing take on the coming-of-age novel… A rich book that will resonate with young teens who may not see themselves in other, darker, YA literature. —School Library Journal


Although Frances O’Roark Dowell is a best-selling and highly acclaimed author of novels for young readers, Ten Miles Past Normal is her first novel for teens. She lives up to her acclaim in this unusual coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old girl who is far from normal, but very endearing. —BookPage